My Two Cents for October 16th, 2012
No Bull, San Francisco Bulls Are A Hit- The San Francisco Bulls opened their inaugural campaign this weekend in splitting two games with the Bakersfield Condors at the Cow Palace on Friday and Saturday. The Bulls dropped their opener 4-3, but came back the following night to handle the Condors 6-5. The opening night crowd of 8,277 witnessed the first professional hockey game played at the Cow Palace in 16 years. The Bulls Dean Ouellet scored the first goal in franchise history at 16:01 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Bakersfield would retake the lead late in the first period and eventually stretch the lead to 4-1 before the Bulls scored two goals in the third period to draw with one. Goals from Kevin Baker and Sacha Guimond cut the Condors lead to 4-3, however the Bulls could never find that tying goal they needed before time expired. Baker, Ouellet and Guimond goals were their first as professionals. Bulls goalie Thomas Heemskerk made 31 saves.
The following night the Bulls won their first game in franchise history before a smaller crowd of 3,659. The Bulls got the jump on Bakersfield as Kevin Baker scored on a break away goal just over four minutes into the game. Dean Ouellet, Matt Carter, Justin Bowers and Thomas Beauregard all scored in the second period as the Bulls jumped out to a 5-3 lead. The Bulls also had a 29-13 shot lead through the first two periods. Sacha Guimond scored early in the final period to give the Bulls a three goal lead which they held on to despite two late power play goals by the Condors. The Bulls now face the challenge of an early season nine game road trip before returning home to the Cow Palace on November 9th. The Bulls next game is in the Inland Empire city of Ontario as they take on the Ontario Reign Wednesday Night before moving on to Bakersfield for a two game set and rematch with the Condors.
The San Francisco Bulls won’t replace the San Jose Sharks, nor is that their intent. However the Bulls right now are playing hockey and there are no guarantees as to how long the NHL Lockout will continue. The Bulls provide a decent alternative in an established professional league that will prove to be entertaining for the fans, and a good place for the Sharks to scout prospects. For many of the players in this league a good number of them may or may not make the NHL. At the same time they are always going to give you 100 percent effort and will leave it all on the ice each and every night. That’s all you can ask of these players, and the games as the result are often times better and extremely entertaining for the fans. If you are able to, you should make it a point to go out and support the San Francisco Bulls, lockout or not.
Worcester Sharks Season is Underway- As for the Worcester Sharks, they opened the season with two losses in Norfolk versus the Admirals over the weekend. On Friday, the Sharks got goals from Travis Oleksuk and Sebastian Stalberg but it would not be enough as Norfolk scored two third period goals to take the opener 4-2. Alex Staylock made 21 saves in over 58 minutes. The following night the Sharks lost a 4-3 decision to the Admirals as the game was decided in a shootout. Yanni Gourde and James Sheppard scored in the first period. With Worcester trailing 3-2 in the third period Matt Tennyson’s goal tied the game and send the contest to overtime and ultimately a shootout. Harri Sateri made 25 saves in 65 minutes in the AHL Sharks net. The Sharks next game is Friday, October 19th against the Portland (Maine) Pirates. The home opener is Saturday Night against the Albany Devils.
More Talks To Resume Tuesday- Talks are scheduled to resume between the NHLPA and the Owners with Commissioner Gary Bettman Tuesday with the hope that the two sides can start go “bridge the gap” on economic issues. Also on the table are drug testing and grievance procedures. In addition, the league is asking the NHLPA to come up with a system which would allow for a new way to divide revenues. Deputy Commissioner and chief legal officer Bill Daly told TSN “We understand that they’ve been working on some concepts, some ideas — we’ve suggested to them just make the proposal. Any movement is better than no movement at all. Hopefully we’ve moved it forward, but even if we move backwards it might be better than where we are now. That was our message to them.”** Daly, along with Commissioner Bettman are meeting again with NHLPA head Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr. They are heading back to the table Tuesday in the hopes of resuming talks which would start to be productive and move towards ending the league wide lockout.
The last issues that were placed on the table September 12th by the NHLPA allowed for the players to take a cut from 54 percent of the revenue down to 52 percent. The owners proposal calls for the players to take a cut down to 49 percent of the revenue, with that revenue to drop down to 47 percent over the next six years. These offers since have been withdrawn since neither side agreed to the others prior to the expiration of the old CBA. Since the lockout began on September 15th, it is estimated that with the cancellation of all games from October 11th through the 24th the league stands to lose over $250 million in revenue. 82 games including the first five games in the Sharks schedule have already been lost and its a fair assumption that more games will be announced as cancelled within this week, which will add up to more revenue losses to each and every NHL team. Keep in mind the Sharks lost $15 million in operational expenses last year per their ownership group, San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises. Just imagine if you will what the cost of a lost season would be or even the partial loss of a season could amount to. Also factor in that players salaries aren’t going to go down regardless of when this lockout situation is finally settled. The Sharks are not the only team facing some financial problems, however at the rate this is going all teams will be paying for this lockout in one respect or the other. Fans are already upset and the way things are moving along with the CBA talks right now just are not helping the league’s cause.
The sad thing here is that the people who are overseeing these negotiations never have so much as even apologize for what happened eight years ago when an entire season was cancelled. Don’t look for these men to apologize for anything regardless of whether this ends during this season or even the next. Many of the casual fans meanwhile have already moved on to other things and are looking to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere. Season ticket holders meanwhile are left holding the bag, though most if not all teams should be at least refunding these fans for what they paid to get the tickets for games which have been cancelled since it’s not likely any of them will be made up. All and all, it’s just an across the board sad situation. The NHL brand will be damaged to some degree, and this is all to serve the purposes of feeding the ego’s of billionaires who along with the Commissioner can shut down the league at will. Again, I would not hold my breath on this one, this will be awhile. There is no guarantee right now that their will even be a 2012-13 season and even if there is, it will be a greatly diminished and damaged product.
Oilers Take Refuge in Oklahoma City- The one team that may prove to be the smartest team in the lockout is the Edmonton Oilers. Anticipating a lockout was going to happen, the Oilers sent some of their best young talent to play for their top minor league affiliate the Oklahoma City Barons. The Oilers American Hockey League affiliate will feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkis and Jordan Eberle. Both had standout years for Edmonton last season. In addition, Taylor Hall will also be joining the Barons soon. Hall has been out of action due to a shoulder injury suffered towards the end of last season and will soon be cleared to play. Hall, along with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are thought to be the core of a team that will develop and make the Oilers relevant again. Oilers fans along with the three stars obviously hope the stint in Oklahoma City will be a short one and that the lockout will soon be resolved. Until that happens, at least the Oilers can take credit for having the hindsight to put these three in a position where they can play every night and continue to develop their already outstanding skills.**
Penguins Not Frozen Out- Meanwhile, some other players have decided this would be a good time to spend with family. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has taken on an occupation that will give him more time at home with his family. Cooke is coaching his daughter’s soccer team. Cooke did express his concerns about the current lockout situation. “Most people just realize and recognize that it’s a lot bigger than one player and there’s not much we can control. ‘Are we going to have hockey this year?’ — that’s their biggest concern. They’re starving for hockey. I think every small town in Canada probably has the same mentality.” Cooke told TSN.***
Cooke’s teammate Sidney Crosby feels that the 2012-13 may not necessarily be a lost cause. Crosby told TSN that he cannot see a scenario where the entire season may be scrapped. “I can’t see it getting to that point, I really can’t.” Crosby continued “It hasn’t even crossed my mind to be honest with you. I think, if anything, my thoughts are more just about whether the NHL has a date in mind and just when they’re actually going to start negotiating.”****
Brett MacLean’s Brush With Death- Brett MacLean’s NHL career has ended at a time when most players are not even at their prime. At 23, the end of his promising NHL career was not his fault. In fact, the very thing that ended his career nearly also claimed his life. During the off season MacLean was participating in a pick up game with some friends when he unexpectedly fell to the ice in full cardiac arrest. MacLean, who was a top prospect for the Phoenix Coyotes, scored 25 goals last season in the AHL. MacLean looked like his best days were ahead of him as he would likely soon find himself in the Coyotes lineup. However, the heart attack changed everything. In his family history there is no known history of heart disease or ailments. When the heart attack happened, his friends immediately swung into action and began CPR until the fire department arrived on scene. Once on scene, the fire department used a automatic external defibrillator (AED) device and were able to revive MacLean before he was airlifted to a hospital.
What exactly caused MacLean’s heart attack is not known. While in surgery, doctors inserted an implantable cardiac defibrillator which is designed to monitor his heart for irregular heartbeats. With this though came the bad news that his career in playing any sport including professional hockey had to come to an end. However, MacLean also decided to embark on a different mission and is now involved with Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and is public speaking about the value of learning and knowing CPR. MacLean is also looking to turn his career into other professions within the sports industry. Though he may never be able to play hockey again, McLean is going to take what he has and turn this into a positive and approach life with a whole new outlook.
“The more people that know CPR, the more lives we’re going to save,” MacLean told TSN.ca.*****
Sharks Abroad- In ten games with HC Davos, Sharks Captain Joe Thornton has scored three goals with six assist in 10 games played. Meanwhile Logan Couture playing for Genève-Servette HC has scored four goals with five assists in eight games. Sharks Forward T.J. Galiardi has two goals and two assists for the Bietigheim Steelers, who play in Germany’s second tier league. Douglas Murray has played four games for Djurgarden in Sweden but has yet to score on net an assist, and suprisingly only has two penalty minutes. In nine games with Oulun Karpat of Finland, Jason Demers has two goals and three assists. Antti Niemi returned to the club where it all began for him with the Pelicans Lahti where he has played in at least one game but no stats were made available.
Non-Hockey Items: San Francisco Giants pull a Harry Houdini- The San Francisco Giants looked beyond dead in the water after dropping the first two games at home versus the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. The Giants were outscored 14-2 in two games, losing the second one by an emphatic 9-0 score. The Giants had to go on the road, down 0-2 in a best of five series. This was beyond torcher baseball, and it looked like the Giants had met their match against a laser focused Reds team. Then the Giants went to Cincinnati, and in Game 3 struggled to stay afloat against a tough Reds pitching staff managing only one run and a hit through nine inning. However, the Giants got a huge break in the 10th inning thanks to a passed ball and later a two out error by the Reds which allowed the go ahead run to score. The Giants held on and won Game 3 by a 2-1 score and still had some life. In Game 4 the Giants broke out the bats, and Pablo Sandoval launched a home run that landed somewhere in Louisville, Kentucky. The Giants won 8-3 and tied the series at 2-2.
In Game 5, the Giants carried the momentum as Matt Cain matched Giant nemesis Matt Latos through the first four innings. In the fifth, the Giants plated six runs capping off the rally with a Buster Posey grand slam. The Reds did come alive and made a game of it, getting the trying run to bat in each of the last four innings. However, the Giants bullpen held up and Angel Pagan made a diving catch in the bottom of the eighth inning which very well may have saved the game for the men in orange and black. With a Reds threat brewing in the bottom of the ninth inning, Sergio Romo struck out Scott Roland and the Giants had a 6-4 victory and an improbable 3-2 series win over the Reds. I don’t know how the Giants pulled off the comeback other than maybe just rallying behind each other and just taking on the trip to Cincinnati, Ohio as not only a business trip, but also a mission.
I did not think the Giants had much if any chance after Game Two and was pleasantly surprised by the way they handled themselves in that situation. Falling down 0-2 in a series, dropping the first two games at home is hardly a recipe for success, but the Giants somehow found a way to get it done and deserve all the credit in the world. With the series win the Giants drew the St Louis Cardinals for the NLDS. After dropping Game One 6-4 Sunday night, the Giants came back in Game Two to rout St. Louis 7-1. Games Three, Four and Five will be in St Louis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Games Six and Seven if needed will be back at AT&T Park next Sunday and Monday.
Also a hardy congrats to the Oakland A’s who had one heck of a season in winning the American League West. The A’s won the West on the last day of the regular season in sweeping the then American League Champion Texas Rangers. The A’s however would lose a best of five series to the Detroit Tigers 3-2. The A’s rallied to tie the series at two games apiece at home after dropping the first two games in Detroit. In Game Five, the A’s got the kryptonite draw known as Justin Verlander who threw a four-hitter at the A’s as the Tigers went on to a 6-0 romp. However, the A’s despite that loss still had a very successful run and hopefully we will see and hear a lot more from them in 2013.
49ers Buy The Farm Versus the NY Giants- Maybe someone out there does have better than the 49ers, and right now maybe a lot better. The 49ers looking to even the score and get some redemption against the New York Giants who defeated the Red and Gold in last years NFC Championship game, got neither redemption or any form of payback whatsoever. In a game that was as shocking as it was unexpected, the NY Giants took over the game in the second quarter and handed the 49ers their hats in a 26-3 rout in a game that was never that close. The 49ers failures as a team are way to numerous to mention here. I will only say four things about this game…1) Give total and complete credit to the New York Giants, they were the better team Sunday and are a better team than the 49ers, period… 2) The 49ers will need to have a short term memory and really right now need to be getting ready for a Seattle Seahawks team that is better than advertised with a 4-2 record for a Thursday Night Game… 3) The 49ers no longer need to be worried about being the best team in the NFL, they need to focus on trying to be the best team in their own division, and 4) Maybe consider putting away the “Who has it better than us…” moniker until they win a Super Bowl or at least get there. After this past Sunday, that moniker is sadly just no longer true. As a die-hard 49ers fan and this is all hard to say, but you have to call it for what it is. The 49ers would be better served to do the same exact thing.
…Just My Two Cents…
The King Shark
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